Title: A Time of Dread
Series: Of Blood and Bone #1
Author(s): John Gwynne
Release Date: February 20th 2018
John Gwynne returns to war with the first book of a brand new trilogy set in the same universe as his original series The Faithful and the Fallen. Having only read the first book of that series, Malice, I found myself in a particular situation that gave me unique insight into what John Gwynne is trying to strategically create with every book he releases. The events that unfold in A Time of Dread is set nearly a whole century after the ending in Wrath, the fourth and final book in The Faithful and the Fallen series. Even with so many years gone by, some things don’t quite change, as sweat and blood still drip from the blades of mortals.
In A Time of Dread, the Ben-Elim, winged-angel-looking folks, are the supreme leaders and are continuously working their way to full authority over the Banished Lands by forcing other clans to commit to flesh tithes. Their pursuit of complete control also parallels a desire to be armed and ready with the strongest and wisest army to take down their eternal enemy, the Kadoshim, whenever they decide to crawl out of the darkness and attempt something malicious. While the leader of the Kadoshim, Asroth, is trapped in an impenetrable cast, the dark-winged-angel-looking fellows are far from giving up upon any potential avenues they could explore in order to stir up some chaos in the world.
Similar to Malice, John Gwynne continues to tell his stories through multiple point of views. In A Time of Dread, we are introduced to four greatly different characters whose adventures are completely different yet all connected by the war between the Ben-Elim and the Kadoshim. First of all, we have Bleda, a young prince who served as a flesh tithe for the Sirak Horse Clan and has lived with the Ben-Elim for a couple of years, following a strict training. Second of all, we have Sig, a giantess glowing with virtue in her heart who finds herself in particular situations alongside her trusted side-kick who just happens to be a giant bear. Third of all, we have Riv, a young lady who is driven by a strong desire to be a White-Wing of Drassil and fight for the cause of the Ben-Elim. Finally, we have Drem, a 21 year old young man who is travelling north with his father as if they were attempting to escape the grasp of faith.
Upon completing this story, I felt like there were two ways you could approach John Gwynne’s books. You’re either a pure adventurer who starts from the beginning, with Malice, and tags along with all the various characters as they serve their part in the grinding of the wheels of destiny, or you embrace your inner historian and reconstruct the timeline whilst embracing the chaos that every character goes through in their lives.
You definitely don’t need to read John Gwynne’s original series to appreciate the greatness of A Time of Dread, but those who do will find joy in spotting all the familiar names and events that occurred a century ago, and assess the impact of certain characters on the turn of events in A Time of Dread. I mean, finding out what Corban accomplishes and what he now means to giants like Sig is one of those things that just easily puts a smile on your face. Ironically, the role of a historian that readers can take up isn’t limited to just spotting references to the original series by John Gwynne, but to also see the influence of real historical events in the development of the world-building in A Time of Dread. Those who revel in historical events and know their stuff will be truly impressed by what John Gwynne envisions and brings to life. It’s just that great.
His writing style is also quite mesmerizing as it will appeal to fans of epic fantasy in many ways. The most notable forte of John Gwynne is in the action sequences that he writes up, and readers will quickly realize that his stories are always action-packed, but also as dark, bloody and chaotic as it can get. Having different point of views also offers him the possibility to explore different fighting styles, whether its in the dual-wielding of swords and axes or the fine precision of bows and arrows. A Time of Dread is without a doubt riddled with action and will get you to keep on flipping through this gigantic book like no other novel. While I did have an issue with the inclusion of internal thoughts of these characters, often infused within the narrative in italics, I can’t deny that I was still absorbed by the story and how it kept on unveiling little plot twists as things got more… dreadful.
MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆
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Till next time,